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Colonial Elementary's Book Chat encourages reading for fun

Colonial Elementary's Book Chat encourages reading for fun
Two teachers and 40+ students holding a book from Book Chat

More than 40 students recently arrived early to Colonial Elementary School and crowded into a classroom to share a love of reading. The fourth and fifth graders were part of the first meeting of the school’s Book Chat. 

“It’s exciting, because everyone wants to read and learn and talk about books,” said fifth grader Adi Digrase. 

For the month of November, the Book Chat members are reading—and chatting about—Fenway and Hattie by Victoria J. Coe. During the first meeting of the Book Chat, the students followed along as teachers Manuela Herbas and Kerry Douglas read the first chapter of the book. They discovered that the family in the story is moving from the city to the suburbs, and the narrator of the tale is the family’s Jack Russell Terrier named Fenway.

“I joined the book club because it’ll help me read better,” said fifth grader McKenzie Stowe. “I don’t really read my books at home, but this looked like a fun book. I decided that maybe I’d like some of the books.” 

While exploring new literature for the classrooms, Mrs. Herbas and Ms. Douglas found themselves excitedly looking for each other in the hall to talk about what was going on in a new children’s book or young adult novel. 

“We decided we needed to get the kids involved in this,” said Ms.Douglas.

The pair reached out to the Colonial School District Education Foundation (CSDEF) through a Teacher Grant, and the CSDEF purchased three sets of books for the Book Chat program. 

The students received the book at the first meeting and have a month to finish it. Then the Book Chat will meet again. There will be guided questions around the classroom to spark conversations with other readers, but the children are also encouraged to talk to their friends about the book during the month as they go along. Adults in the school who are reading the book also display special signs, so students know they can talk to that adult about the book, as well. 

“We wanted it to just be chatting about a book, the natural reactions, and the excitement,” said Mrs. Herbas. “Let’s read, let’s talk, let’s get connected.”

The Book Chat will meet for new books in January and March.

A boy shares what he noticed in the passage they were reading